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Wanna fund your own windmill? Got $100?


Social entrepreneurship is our unofficial theme this week. If $400 is too much to pay for a laptop, a Guatemalan wind turbine might be more your speed.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting the good folks at the San Francisco chapter of Engineers without Borders. Like other things-without-borders themed organizations, EWB is a non-profit professional association that donates its expertise to worthy projects in developing countries.

At any given time, EWB is helping out with numerous projects across the globe. One that caught my attention during our conversations is an effort to develop a low-cost wind turbine for use in off-grid Guatemalan villages. How low-cost? Hopefully about $100 or less, once production ramps up.

Needless to say, these are small turbines capable of putting out only a few watts, enough to charge LED lights or cell phones, among other possible uses. Access to artificial light and telecommunications are useful accelerants to economic development, and of course the electricity generated is carbon-free. Here’s a prototype of the turbine being tested in California:

There’s a lot more to tell about this project, but for now I’ll just end with a plug: if you’d like to help out, now is a particularly good time to donate. They’re just about wrapping up the prototype phase and getting ready for field testing in Guatemala. This is (hopefully) the final hurdle before the technology can be rolled out more broadly. It’s also a step that requires some cash.

To give online, go here. Select “ATDT: Guatemala Wind Turbine” from the first dropdown and click submit. Then select “ATDT: Guatemala Wind Turbine” from the second dropdown (confusing) and click “Make a Donation”.

Bonus photo: a borderless engineer creates the base for a prototype turbine. More photos available here.


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